Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday's Reflections

I would like to share a few thoughts from last Sunday's message. I truly believe that it is time for the people of God to WAKE UP!!!

I Peter 5:6-8, Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober (be discreet, watch), be vigilant (keep awake, watch); because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (NKJV) (Emphasis Added)

Let me remind you that we are not the first generation and we may not be the last generation that have faced or will face a set of unique challenges. I was taking my concerns as well as the concerns of others to God in prayer a few weeks ago. Let me take a moment and make an honest confession this morning. For a moment or two in my time of prayer I was overwhelmed by the heaviness of the burden that I felt for myself as well as the burden that I felt for others. I could sense the “prowling of the roaring lions” that the Apostle Peter referenced in his writings. We must remember that the devil is our adversary!! He is your enemy and he is opposed to you. Satan opposes man in his best interests. He resists our efforts to do good; He resists our efforts to spend eternity with God; He resists our attempts to develop our relationship with God. We must also remember that he resists all our efforts to obey God and to secure the salvation of our own souls.
But at that particular moment the Spirit raised up a Word from God in my heart. He deposited these words in my Spirit; “I will provide a unique anointing for a group of unique people who are living in a unique time in the history of mine.” It was at that moment that I unloaded my burdens and realized that God has not only cared about people in the days of yesterday but He cares about the people of today and He will care about me in all of the tomorrows that I have left on earth.  Do you remember the words of the worship song, One Thing Remains, “Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me. On and on and on and on it goes. It overwhelms and satisfies my soul And I never ever have to be afraid, One thing remains.”  The enemy may be making a lot of noise in your life today but rest assured that the Love of God remains a constant companion and His Love is very active in your life.   

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday's Thoughts

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (NKJV)

I read this passage of scripture prior to my prayer time this morning. But it took on a new perspective as the Spirit brought it to my attention during certain sections of my time of prayer. I have heard these words shared in many sermons and I have even spoken these words and this principle in many sermons that I have shared. 

Many times I have focused on the words "any should perish" but today the word "longsuffering" kept rising in my spirit. The idea that God does not want anyone to perish is supported and kept at the forefront of His plan for humanity because of His longsuffering. He "suffers long" for His creation. He refuses to stop reaching out to them in love, care, compassion, kindness, etc. He continues to drop "signs" in their path so that they will know that He has not walked away from them or that He has not forgotten them.

As a parent I can remember those moments in the lives of our children which required some longsuffering on our part. I can remember the times when they were learning to feed themselves (Oh the mess to be reckoned with and cleaned up). NOTE: It did get better over time under the direction and care of a compassionate Mother who was "longsuffering" and willing to work through the process of growth. Can you remember the first steps of your children or grandchildren? More than likely the steps were wobbly to begin with but got stronger and steadier with the assistance of the steadying hand of a parent. Can you remember assisting with homework? Longsuffering was a very much welcomed attribute during those moments for both parent and child. What about the first driving lesson? I will stop with that example because that can bring into play a complete different set of circumstances. 

Hopefully these brief examples of life can remind us of the AWESOME LOVE, CARE, COMPASSION, KINDNESS AND LONGSUFFERING that our Heavenly Father possesses for each of His children and each of His future children. We should remember that God is calling this wayward generation to repentance and their response will require "longsuffering" from each of us!!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday's Musings

This is another day in which God has provided us with a choice to make. I can choose to draw closer to Him or I can choose to grow distant from Him. I don't believe that the day in which we are living will allow us to remain "spiritually neutral." We are either for Christ or we are against Christ. Jesus reminded us of this truth when He walked the face of this Earth. These words are not written from a harsh, critical attitude rather they are written from an attitude that sincerely believes that God is sending the "Church" a wake-up call. Don't you hear the alarm going off? Are we going to arise from our "sleepy spiritual" state or will we be content to hit the snooze button and roll back over and go back to sleep? I believe that it is spiritually dangerous to remain asleep. Let us arise and cast off the garments of darkness and put on the garments of Light. 

There was an awesome move of the Spirit in yesterday's service at New River. I prayed with many people who could hear the alarm bells sounding and they chose to listen to the voice of the Spirit and respond in obedience. God is calling for obedience to His directives. We have tried to replace old fashioned obedience with works, actions, offerings, service, etc. Each of these "actions" are good in and of themselves but they can never take the place of surrender and obedience to God. We must STOP AVOIDING the directives/mandates of God. We must do as Jesus reminded us, "...deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him." The part of denying ourselves can be very problematic in a world that is encouraging us to be independent, self sustaining, and exhibiting our freedom to make our own choices regarding our journey through life. That sounds very good to the fleshly side of us BUT we must also remember that there is an eternal side of us. We are a "living soul" that will spend eternity in the presence of God or we will spend eternity out of the presence of God. The choices we make on this earth will determine our eternal destiny.

I received a message yesterday afternoon from a young lady that was present in our Sunday service. As a matter of fact I was able to pray with this young lady during the altar prayer time of the service. The Lord is at work in her heart to say the least. She sent me a passage of scripture from the Message which is a transliteration of the Bible. I want to share the NKJV with you today as well as the Message. I encourage you to take a moment and allow the power of the Word to sink deep into your heart.

Hebrews 10:22-25, "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

Hebrews 10:22-25, "So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday's Challenge

James 4:8a, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you..." (KJV)

This passage of scripture has been on my mind this morning. These words continued to resonate in my heart during prayer time. I have heard this passage preached and I have preached this passage on many occasions in my ministerial life. But these words may be more important now than ever before. Many Christians supposedly believe that we are living in the days which could very well usher in the return of Jesus Christ. Christians have been looking for Him to return since He ascended back to Heaven at the conclusion of His earthly mission to planet Earth. I still believe that His promises are true but I do not know the exact time that these promises will be fulfilled. My responsibility is to live each day in such a manner that I am prepared to leave this world regardless of the time.

This passage reinforces that need to me as I read and re-read the powerful words. These words contain both a "call" from God as well as a promise from God. I am called to release my faith and take the first step, "Draw nigh to God", and then God will follow through on His promises to those who obey Him, "and he will draw nigh to you." I truly believe that God is calling the modern day church to take the first step, "Draw nigh to God." But we need more people to heed the call than just a small group of believers. We need a stirring or awakening that will cause each of us to open our hearts to this challenge in the Word of God. But then we must allow this stirring or awakening to thrust us into an all out pursuit of God and the promises that He has prepared to release in our individual as well as corporate lives. 

I want to leave you with some questions to ponder as you reflect on this passage of scripture.

1) Am I truly serious about drawing closer to God?
2) Am I truly committed to the process of the ongoing development of my relationship with God?
3) Am I truly passionate about my walk with Christ? Does it actually take first place in my priorities or is it "something" that I will get around too when I have time?
4) Do I truly sense that I am drawing closer to God or does it really matter to me?
5) Do I get tired of hearing the Preacher or Teacher tell me that each of us needs more of God in our lives?

Have a wonderful weekend!! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Power Outage?

Luke 24:44-49, And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (KJV)

I have been reminding the New River congregation of our need to recognize the importance of the presence and power of God in our lives. The Spirit began to sow these thoughts in my heart as we moved from the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus toward Pentecost Sunday. I wanted the people to realize that we needed more than just an emotional encounter with God. In my opinion the modern day church needs a true "spiritual encounter" with God. That type of encounter will bring true repentance and true transformation through the work of God in our hearts and not just in our emotions. 

Have you ever encountered a power outage in your home due to a storm or possibly your power was disconnected due to the fact that you were unable to pay your bill? Either one of those scenarios caused us to realize that there were many things that we would be unable to accomplish due to the loss of power. But there is an answer in that case as well as the case of the loss of power in our spiritual lives. We call the local utility company when the natural power source is loss and we call on heaven when the loss of spiritual power becomes evident. This message is about calling on Heaven and remembering that God does have the resources to place His power in our lives. I believe that He is just waiting on people who will tarry in His presence believing that there is a surge of power being placed in their lives. 

The literal translation of these words of Jesus found in verse 49 could be stated in this manner, Sit ye still in the city . . . till ye be clothed.’ The original word used in the Bible gives us “the sense of sinking into a garment.”  I think of a fireman putting on his suit of clothes as he/she is preparing to leave the firehouse to go fight a fire.  We are in the spiritual firehouse today and we are preparing our hearts to face those “fiery trials” of life. But I am sharing these words to encourage you “sink” down into the spiritual garment that God has provided for His family to have on as we face our individual set of challenges in life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday's Praises

I was awakened this morning with a song on my mind. We sing this song on various occasions at church and it always ministers to my heart. It seems at least to me that I am either writing about the need to pray or the need to offer praise to God. I understand that there are other very important principles found in the Bible but these two principles are very prominent in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Let me hasten to add these words to this post; "I want to be found in such a condition with God that I am faithful in following both of these commands from God.

There are many occasions in which my "prayer time" turns into a "praise time." When I begin to think about the things that God has done in my life it spurs me onward and upward into a deeper pursuit of the presence of God. I don't have to think very long before my mind begins to fill with those "God moments" in which the power of God turned a spiritual minefield into a green pasture of miracles. Oh, I just think that I need to stop writing and shout HALLELUJAH at this moment!!!

I certainly understand that life is full of challenges and that our road of life can be very tumultuous at certain moments. But I also realize that NOTHING is ever out of the sight of God. He is aware of the small things that seek to spoil our lives as well as the large things that look too difficult to overcome. It is during those times that we recognize and remember the greatness of God and understand that He is still in charge of our destiny. 

Oh, family of God we cannot afford to lose our hope and confidence in God. Take a moment and look back over your life and reflect on some moments in which God divinely intervened in your life and brought the provision that you needed.

Have the words of this song from Hillsong United ever become a reality in your life?

When I Think about the Lord, 
How He saved me, how He raised me, 
How He filled me, with the Holy Ghost.
How He healed me, to the uttermost. 
When I Think about the Lord, 
How He picked me up and turned me around, 
How He placed my feet on solid ground

It makes me wanna shout, Hallelujah, Thank you JESUS, 
LORD, your worthy, of all the glory, and all the honor,  And all the praise...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weekend Reflections

I wanted to take a few moments and reflect on the events of this past weekend. First, I trust that all of the Fathers enjoyed your special day on Sunday. It is encouraging to see our families, our local churches as well as our nation honor the men who seek to live a life that is worthy of emulation. I have been blessed to have crossed paths with many wonderful, godly men who have made a difference in my life. I was able to take a few minutes and reflect on them at some point over this past weekend. I still have a few phone calls that I will make over the next few days in which I will share my words of appreciation with some individuals. I trust that someone reached out to you with some kind and encouraging words that made you realize that their life has truly made a difference in your life. The good men of our nation certainly need the affirmation of their family, friends, and local church family!!

I was able to serve as a support staff at a Ladies Ministry event at our local church on Saturday. This time of ministry was led and directed by my wife, Ann. This event was designed to be a time to celebrate the fact that each person has a "story to tell" concerning their life and their walk with Christ. This goal was more than accomplished through music, dramatic monologues, testimonies, and personal fellowship during meal time. You could truly sense the presence of God as each individual lady realized that her life was important and that she was a "story that was worth telling" to the people that God places in her life. It was an amazing time in the presence of the Lord and I truly believe that each of the ladies that were present were impacted through this time of ministry. Let me remind you today that "you have a story to tell" and that God is definitely interested in YOU as He is in anybody else. 

Sunday developed into a very unique service in which we honored the men that was present in the service with somewhat a focus on the Fathers that were present. I may use these words at various times but I truly felt that "the Holy Spirit" had instructed me about the conclusion of the service. I truly believe that the manhood of America is under attack. I say that from a spiritual perspective as I identify the moral and spiritual climate of our nation. Our families, our churches, and our nation is in need of MEN who will step forward in boldness, dedication, sincerity and courage and offer themselves to God as a living sacrifice. I asked the men to accept the challenge to become a Joshua 24 man, " for me and my house we will serve the Lord." The men of our nation can no longer afford to sit idly on the sideline. Each of us must rise to the occasion and accept our Biblical responsibility to make a difference in this world in a positive manner. I concluded this service by anointing and praying over each man. This time of prayer included the adult men, the young adult men, the teenage men, the male children in Children's Church as well as the male babies. It was an amazing sight to behold as men brought their young children either by their side or in their arms to be anointed. I will never forget Father's Day 2016 at New River Worship Center!!

FYI: I spent a nice portion of the afternoon with my wife, children and grandchildren. I am not all business, I do have some time in which I relax and enjoy myself. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Father's Day

First of all, I would like to take a moment and wish a HAPPY FATHERS DAY to those men who have a strong desire to faithfully serve their families on a daily basis. I would also like to say HAPPY FATHERS DAY to those Spiritual Fathers who have poured into our lives through the years. Our earthly father as well as our spiritual fathers have made a difference in our lives to say the least.

In a few days we will celebrate a day in which we honor and remember our earthly Fathers. This will be my first Fathers Day since my Dad passed away 2 1/2 months ago. You probably have heard these words said before but I will say them once more. I have learned to appreciate the moments in which God allows you to interact with those special people that He has placed in your life. It is also true that life is a vapor and that it vanishes quickly. My Dad lived almost one week past his 90th birthday. Yet, I have asked myself, "Where did the time go?" The events in our nation over the past few weeks have reminded us of the brevity of life. I encourage each one of us to cherish those moments of life that God provides for us.

Here is one valuable lesson among many lessons that I have reflected on since my Dad passed away. I remember his actions as much or maybe even more than what he said. His life demonstrated what he believed. He put into action those moral and spiritual principles that he set out to teach me. My Dad was a Bi-Vocational Pastor. He along with my Mom raised six children as well as served various congregations as Pastor through those years. I was able to witness his love in action with his family. I was able to witness his love for God in action on a daily basis. Him and my Mom would care for the lonely, feed the hungry, befriend (NOT DE-FRIEND) the poor and the outcast. My Dad is still alive in my heart and I think of him often. I miss him when I pray because I remember all of the times that we prayed together and I remember all of the prayers that he prayed for his family. I feel the need to pick up his mantle and continue to put into action those principles he modeled before me. I want to leave a mantle that would be worthy enough that my sons would desire to pick it up after my passing from this world. 

I don't mean for these words to sound boastful but I just get tired of hearing about all of the bad fathers in our world. I believe that it is good to remind our society that were men and that there are men who love their families appropriately and correctly. These previous statements lead me to this conclusion. We have to answer this question whether we are a man or a woman; "Am I practicing what I am teaching?" My actions need to match my words.

Let me conclude this post with some words from Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk.

Someone said, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.” There is truth to this statement. Children may not remember what you say, but they are usually impacted for life by what you do. Consider the task of teaching your boys to be honest, for example. Yes, you should teach what the Scripture says about truthfulness, but you should also look for opportunities to live according to that standard of righteousness.

I’m reminded of something that happened many years ago in the state of Georgia, when the Bulldogs of Rockdale County High School overcame a big deficit to win the state basketball championship. Coach Cleveland Stroud couldn’t have been more proud of his team. But then a few days later, while watching the game films of the playoffs, he noticed that there was an ineligible player on the court for forty-five seconds during one of the games. He called the Georgia High School Association and reported the violation, costing the school the title and the trophy.

When asked about it at a press conference, Coach Stroud said,

“Some people have said that we should have kept quiet about it. That it was just forty-five seconds, and that the player wasn’t really an impact player. But you gotta’ do what’s honest and right. I told my team that people forget the scores of basketball games. They don’t ever forget what you’re made out of.” You can be certain that every member of the Bulldogs’ team will remember the character of Coach Stroud. 

A letter to the editor of the local newspaper summed it up well, “We have scandals in Washington and cheating on Wall Street. Thank goodness we live in Rockdale County, where honor and integrity are alive and being practiced.” Your boys and girls need to see you doing what is right, even when it is inconvenient to do so. 

This raises a question about the other characteristics you are trying to model for your sons. Have you thought that through? Do you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish at home? If you’re not sure who you are as a man or what you are trying to say with the “message of your life,” your boys (and girls) will have no consistent example to follow. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Good Men are NEEDED

I am sure that many of you are aware that we are approaching the celebration of "Father's Day" this coming Sunday. Father's Day does not receive as much attention as Mother's Day but it is no less important by any means. The lack of good Father's could be one of the factors that is contributing to the moral and spiritual decline that is effecting our nation. We have too many absent Fathers and too many detached Fathers. We also have too many men who can assist in the production of a child and then choose to disappear when the "real work" of raising a child begins. I read some words that Adrian Rogers wrote and I would like to share them with you today.

I am convinced that America’s families will not be changed until the dads in America are changed. The key is the father. God has given us a survival manual, and it begins with the father. He is to be a God-fearing, hard-working, worshiping man of God. He is to be bold, but he must also truly fear God. What is the fear of God?  Not a cringing dread of God, but love on its knees. And I am convinced that the man who fears God the most loves God the best. Dads, your children need to see the fear of God in your life. I’ve made an observation of fathers. Do you know what makes a good dad? He is a man who is both strong and tender at the same time. He is strong, but not afraid to hug, to kiss, to love, to speak softly and gently to the children.” (Adrian Rogers)

I would like to offer this prayer for the men of America today. It is not too late to draw near to God and to allow Him to direct the steps of your life. The decision is ours to make. I encourage each man in America to be willing to step up to the plate and fulfill your Biblical responsibility. 

Dear God, we come before you with thanksgiving and praise. We are thankful for the godly men that you have placed in our lives on the natural level as well as the spiritual level. We are asking that you will strengthen this generation of men so that they can fulfill their leadership responsibilities. We are asking that you raise up men who are prepared to love God, love their wife, love their children and love their brothers and sisters in Christ. We are asking that men see the need to lead by example and not just by precept. We are asking that you release the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men today so that they can meet the challenges that face them, face their families and that are facing our nation. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. AMEN!!!”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday's Thoughts

I would to like to share a passage of scripture that God placed on and in my heart during prayer this morning. Would you take a moment and read this passage very carefully?

2 Timothy 3:1-3, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good," (NIV)

Our nation has been struck by another tragedy which has led to the deaths of at least 49 people and left many others wounded. These events leave us to wonder, "When will these senseless killings ever end?" Our world is one that is full of despair, discouragement and much anger toward one another. This is the day in which we need a fresh revelation of God's Word and God's Love. I am determined to promote as well as practice both of these principles in my personal life as well as my Ministerial/Pastoral life. 

Will you join me in practicing these principles in your life and also ask God to encourage others through your desire to live a life that is pleasing to God? 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday's Musings

I would like to share three personal observations for this past week or past weekend. Due to our modern technology we are able to have instant news reports both good as well as bad at our fingertips. This accessibility can create both positive as well as negative emotional reactions. This accessibility is also a reason that I believe that it is imperative that we rely on the presence of God's grace in our lives. We never know what we will hear about or what we may personally face throughout the course of the day but we can rely on the promise that God will never leave nor forsake us. 

First, this past week saw the city of Louisville as well as our nation say good-bye to Muhammad Ali, the three time Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the world. He was also heralded as a Humanitarian who shared good will as well as financial support for various causes throughout America as well as various countries of the world. He was also recognized as a peacemaker by many who spoke at his memorial service. Our city has experienced an outbreak of violence and murder over the past few months but for a few days the citizens of this community put their "best foot forward" and there was a lack of violence for a period of time. Even the Chief of Police remarked that it would be great if this atmosphere would remain present after the burial of Muhammad Ali. But less than 24 hours later the violence had returned to our city and one of the shooting victims was a policemen (He is still recovering in the hospital.). Will we ever learn that true transformation can only come through the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in our lives? 

Second, we were awakened on Sunday with the terrible news of the shooting rampage in Orlando, Florida. The number of causalities will place this massacre at the top of the list for the largest number of deaths at any mass shooting in our history. Does it concern anyone that it is very possible that this record will be broken one day? Where is the respect for the lives of others? Is the Golden Rule also irrelevant in this day and time? The same group of people who have declared God and the Bible irrelevant must have also declared the Golden Rule irrelevant. I am truly thankful that I was taught that these two principles are relevant. I am truly thankful that I still believe that these two principles as well as the principles of Truth found in the Bible are relevant!! Will we ever learn that true transformation can only come through the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in our lives? 

Third, our Sunday service at New River was highly anointed and very encouraging to those who sat in the sanctuary that day. God is aware of all of the feelings of inadequacy that we sense and feel in our daily lives. "His love will never fail, His love will never give up on us and His love will never run out for us." It was an encouragement when several individuals stepped forward during the invitation (Yes, I gladly admit that I sill give invitations.) and received strength, grace and mercy from their Heavenly Father. I have received two personal testimonies from various individuals that related to me a miraculous intervention from God during this service. I give God PRAISE, ADORATION AND WORSHIP for revealing His ministering presence in our lives!! Will we ever learn that true transformation can only come through the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in our lives? 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Praise, Part 3

Psalm 33:1, "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright." (KJV)

Psalm 33:1, "Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful." (NJKV)

Psalm 33:1, "Let the godly sing for joy to the Lordit is fitting for the pure to praise him." (NLT)

I have shared three (3) different translations of Psalm 33:1 today. I felt the Lord placed this passage of scripture in my heart this morning. I truly desire to be known as a "man of praise." I want to be able to offer my sincere praise to God regardless of the circumstances that I may be facing. I have heard the word "when" used in connection with "future praise" during my journey of life. Let me share with you a couple of examples. "When I get out of the hospital Preacher, you can look for me in church. When I get a better job Preacher you can count on me to financially support the church. When I get a "few things" straightened out you will see me in the altar giving my life to Christ."  I could go but I think you can see where I am going with this post. Sadly I can say that many of these who made those statements or ones similar to them have not made it to church yet much less to the altar.

My next question is this one; "What are we waiting on? TODAY is the right day to offer our praise to God. Stop putting off to tomorrow what you need to be doing TODAY!!! Do you remember this line from an old song, "God's been so good to me I cannot, cannot tell it all, He's opened doors for me I cannot, cannot tell it all. He's made a way for me, I cannot, cannot tell it all. He supplies my every need I cannot, I cannot tell it all." (Jonathan McReynolds) Is there anyone who feels that way today? There is no way that any one of us can fully tell it all. But we can attempt to show our sincere appreciation to God through the offering of our praise and thanksgiving.

This Psalm reminds us that praise is "comely, beautiful, and fitting" for those who are followers of God. I encourage each of us to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity and offer our praise God TODAY. Don't keep putting it off; He is listening for your voice TODAY!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Praise, Part 2

Yesterday's post reminded us of the need to live a life that recognizes the importance of thankfulness. We need to be willing to offer our sincere appreciation to God but also be willing to offer our appreciation to those people around us that God uses on a daily basis. Have you ever noticed the smile that will come over the face of a soldier, policeman, firemen, or any other "servant" when you offer words of appreciation and thankfulness to them? The words we speak reminds them that someone has taken notice of their service and I believe those words also remind them that their service was and is appreciated. 

Is it possible that we can "forget" God and begin to take his blessings for granted? Is it possible that we can begin to live a life that demonstrates an attitude of "spiritual entitlement?" We begin to act as though God "owes" us His blessings or that He already knows that I am thankful without me having to express those feelings to Him? I am merely sharing these questions to cause us to stop and think about our attitudes toward God. Have you ever heard these words from a song that I have heard as well as sang? "When I think of His goodness and what He has done for me..." I fully understand that we can not remember it all or tell it all but there are those times in which we need to allow the feelings of thankfulness to be expressed through the words that we speak.

Yesterday I shared a scripture passage that referenced a wonderful encounter with Jesus Christ that came to a group of lepers. Earlier today I read some words that gives insight to the disease of leprosy. Let me share them with you.

Leprosy is a debilitating, snarly and a painful disease from a slow growing bacteria causing a loss of feeling in the arms and legs, along with muscle weakness. In Jesus’ day not only was this condition hideous to the eyes—an inflicted person was ostracized from the community. At the very moment the sick individual needed care and support—they were isolated. So, healing by Jesus was an extraordinary relief for the ten lepers—an event that pricked a scared society’s soul. A hug from a healthy person felt awkward—aches were replaced by joy! Remarkably, the twice shunned foreigner took time to thank Jesus. Love enjoys the gift, but also thanks the gift giver! (Emphasis added)

Yes, we need to be thankful for the blessings that God shares with us but we also need to be thankful for the source of those blessings!! Will you take some time today and turn your attention away from the blessings and turn your attention to God? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wednesday's Praises

Luke 17:15-19, And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (NKJV)

I don't think that any of us would want to classify ourselves as people who are not thankful, The lack of thankfulness is not something that we would even promote and certainly not put into practice. Yet it is easy to fail to put this action into practice into our lives. The Apostle Paul did remind us that there would be "unthankful" people (possibly Christians) in what the Bible classifies as "perilous" (dangerous) days (2 Timothy 3). 

We can think about being thankful but do we speak out loud about being thankful? We are living in a world that is full of negativity, full of harsh words, and full of broken people who are looking for a way out of their circumstances. I understand that someone may disagree with me and say that my perspective is very shallow and weak. But I do believe that there is strength when we offer our vocal and verbal thanksgiving to God. The shouts of praises, and the offering of worship, honor and glory to God have always been a part of Christianity. It is sad to say, but sport fans celebrate a touchdown in a football game, a dunk in a basketball game, or a home run in a baseball game more than some Christians celebrate their relationship with Christ. Yes, there is a time to be quiet, still and calm in the presence of God but there are also times in which God is waiting to hear your voice. 

Will God hear your voice of thanksgiving today? Your voice and your words are important to Him. Today's scripture passage reveals that Christ asked these words; "...But where are the nine?..." Christ was looking for their voice and their words of praise. Let these words of Christ challenge your heart today. Christ is worthy of our praise, adoration and worship. And remember no one can take your place at the altar of praise. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tuesday's Thoughts

It is a beautiful, clear, cloud free and cool morning in Kentucky. It is another wonderful day to offer praise and thanksgiving to our God. Isn't God worthy of our praise this morning? We need to stop waiting for "another blessing" to come our way. God has already revealed His faithfulness to us and to His Word many times in our lives. I trust that this post will encourage you to shout out "Praise the Lord" in recognition of God's goodness and His graciousness.

A little over ten years ago God began to deal with my heart about the need for another great Spiritual Awakening in America. That inspiration was so challenging to me that I resigned the church that I was serving in Louisville, Kentucky and set in motion a journey that I continue to this very day. I arose and prayed this morning with that same desire/same dream/same sense of urgency and same desperate prayer in my heart. I sense the need for this "Spiritual Awakening" ever more today than I did in late 2005 and early 2006. In my opinion our nation has traveled further down the slippery slope of rebellion and disobedience to God. BUT I STILL BELIEVE AND STILL PREACH THAT JESUS CHRIST IS STILL THE ANSWER FOR OUR NATION!!!

I confess that I still preach that message with a sense of urgency, compassion, concern and faith. I believe that God is at work and I have witnessed snippets of that Awakening at various intervals over the past ten years. I am seeing "snippets" of His Awakening during this time in my life. These moments of confirmation serve as an impetus to continue this pursuit of God and the pursuit of people who will respond to that call from God. I want to share one of those "moments" with you from this past Sunday morning.

I made a statement in the message that I don't remember ever making before in my many years of preaching. This is the gist of what I said. I declared that I was praying for people to awaken after a night's sleep and feel a very strong sense of hunger in their body. But the hunger would not be satisfied with food but only "more of God's presence" would satisfy the hunger that was in their hearts. As soon as I said those words, I heard the enemy whisper these words to my spirit. "That is the most foolish thing that you have ever said. This group of people with think that you are crazy offering this concept to them." All of these thoughts were travelling through my mind as I was sharing the remainder of the message. Needless to say, but we were blessed with a powerful outpouring of His Spirit in the altar service.

I was still standing the area of the altar when a young man from the congregation approached me and shared these words with me. "Pastor Mike, I got up this morning hungry but I did not want food. I knew that I was hungry for more of God in my life. I knew that I was hungry to draw closer to God. I knew that I was hungry to learn more about God."


Friday, June 3, 2016

Who or What is on Your Prayer List?

Matthew 6:32-34, "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (NKJV)

The people that know me understand that I am a man who believes in the power of prayer and that I am a person committed to prayer. In my opinion, prayer is an "under-used" tool in the Christian's spiritual tool box.  But I am also recognize that God is calling forth a spiritual army that is reconnecting with the importance and prominence of prayer. 

Prayer will reconnect us God which will then lead us into living a life that is pleasing to God. We have to be careful and not just pray to get "things" from God. Yes, God is a God of generosity, care and concern for His children. But He is also a God of relationship. I believe that God is calling us to draw near to Him and in doing so we will find our needs met through the awesome power that God possesses. 

Jesus reminds us that our Heavenly Father is aware of all that we have need of in our lives. I fully believe that God knows us better than we know ourselves. Let me remind you of the words that Jesus spoke as we review this passage in Matthew. Jesus issues a challenge and call to His children; "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Do those specific words grab your attention? Jesus is revealing to us the plan of God when it comes to prayer. We are to seek His Kingdom first then all the things that we need shall be added to our lives.

I am concerned about some of our modern day praying. Yes, we are make our requests known to God. Yes, we are cast our cares on Him. Yes, we are to bring our heavy burdens to the Lord and yes, He will provide the rest that we need. BUT, we are also told to seek the Kingdom of God. 

Can you imagine the power and presence of God that would be released in the church if every believer accepted this mandate of God and chose to follow His commands regarding our prayer life? I would like to encourage you to spend a significant portion of your prayer time seeking God. Is it possible that we come to our prayer time burdened with so many needs that we are overwhelmed and so we spend very little time talking to God about our relationship with Him? 

We can change this by taking a simple action. Let us come focused and committed to spending time drawing closer to God. Is it possible that type of praying may hold the key to our needs and the needs of others being met? I encourage you to make this adjustment for a period of time and see if there is any difference in your life!!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thoughts on Thursday

Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," (NKJV)

My heart was challenged last night as I sat and listened to our Student Ministries Pastor challenge our 2016 High School graduates concerning their future decisions of life. The challenge was being issued to them but many of the other adults as well as young people who were sitting in that room had to be inspired as we listened to the presentation of the Word of God. I would like to take a moment and summarize what I felt the Lord place in my heart. These thoughts were resonating in my heart as I awoke this morning and they were confirmed to me as I prayed this morning.

Pastor John opened his discourse by reminding us of a graduation speech that Winston Churchill had shared at Oxford University in England. This great leader of Great Britain had been asked to inspire and challenge the graduating class. The crowd undoubtedly was awaiting a major address from this powerful leader as well as a riveting speaker. He stepped to the podium and removed his cigar from his mouth, removed his hat and placed his cane near the podium. I can sense the anticipation of the crowd as they are awaiting the words from this very famous statesman from Great Britain. He opens with this declaration, "Never give up." He pauses for a few moments and then declares these words, "Never give up." He may have declared these words once more, "Never give up." He then pauses for a moment and then picks up his cigar, his hat and his cane and walks out of the building. Those words, "Never give up" was the "speech" that he shared with the graduating class of Oxford University. 

Has it ever crossed your mind to give up when you have faced certain challenges in your life? Have you ever said these words to yourself, "What's the use? I am a failure. I might as well as quit." Many of us have probably declared those words either out loud or at least in the privacy of our minds. We were discouraged at that moment and our hopes and dreams seemed to be disappearing right before our eyes. 

But our resolve to live a life that was pleasing to God began to provide the strength and courage that we needed to continue our journey of life. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that we have a race to run. No one else can run our race. No one else can finish our course. No one else can have courage, boldness and passion for us. We have to be willing to run with endurance, persistence, tenacity, commitment and dedication. But I believe that God will provide the strength that each of us need if we will be willing to trust in Him and also be willing to follow His guidance.

Let me close with these words, "NEVER GIVE UP." This plan has worked before and it will work again!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Presence of God

Exodus 33:13-15, "Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." (NKJV)

This passage of scripture keeps resonating in my heart during prayer time over the past several days. This passage is one that God is reminding me about on a personal level but I also feel that it is worthy of your consideration. We certainly need the presence of God in our daily lives as we travel the road of life.

We are living in a very "unique" time to say the least. It seems that when you think that you have heard or seen it all something new and different appears on the horizon. I may not be able to stop those things from happening but I can make sure that I respond in the correct manner. After all, I can only answer for myself regarding my personal relationship with God. I fully understand that I have "ministerial responsibilities" and I will give an account of my activity in that area of my life. But each of us as individuals will be called on to answer for our individual life and give an account of our responses to the daily challenges that we face.

Moses was facing a call to follow God's direction and guidance in his life. His obedience would not only affect his personal life but it would also have an effect on the lives of Israel. Your personal decisions do have an effect on those people that are connected with you. Moses knew that his successful journey depended on the presence of God accompanying him and the people on their future journey. 

Let us notice the conclusion that Moses reached and he boldly shared his conclusion with God. Verse 15 reveals this conclusion to us and Moses proceeds to make this courageous declaration. "Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." Moses realized that His life was dependent on the presence of God to direct His steps. 

What are we depending on today? Are we depending on the fickleness of people? Are we depending on the weakness of the flesh? Are we depending on our abilities, talents, or skills? I WANT TO DEPEND ON THE PRESENCE OF GOD TO LEAD ME IN THE RIGHT WAY!!!